F is for Faeries: Friend or Foe?

Many of us were first introduced to fairies when we were young children. We were enchanted by Tinkerbell from Peter Pan, and wished we had our own Fairy Godmother to grant our wishes the way Cinderella’s did. In the summertime, we imagined fireflies were magical creatures sprinkling our backyard with fairy dust. And when a loose tooth finally freed itself, a simple right of passage went from mundane to miraculous with the promise of a visit from the Tooth Fairy.

My young imagination savored the notion of having a cute little mystical friend at hand. It would be like having a small pet who would entertain me with endless visual delights of sparkling aerial acrobatics; a wee companion who would not only entertain, but also provide serious guidance when I struggled with a big decision… A petite personal adviser of conscience. I loved immersing myself in the fairy stories so prevalent in library books, cartoons, and movies.

But one night, this fascination leapt right from the whimsical world in my mind to the physical world. I saw a fairy with my very own eyes.

I awoke in the middle of the night and there she was: Pale with dark, silken hair to her waist, wearing a long, flowered gown of blue and green. She was closer to actual human-size than the tiny fairies common to folklore, yet still seemed mystically miniature. Near the foot of my bed was a clothing dresser about four feet high, and she was standing tip-toed on a chair, examining the top of the dresser. I remember her looking over at me at one point, but I said nothing, and she turned back to her work of perusing my dresser top in the near darkness.

Although the vision was fleeting, it remained in my mind the next morning as I shared it with my sister and parents. While I’m sure they assumed I was dreaming, I knew the truth: I had witnessed the one and only Tooth Fairy in my bedroom! Some things don’t need to be explained, one just knows, and this was one clear cut case of simple gut instinct. She was obviously looking for a tooth, lost recently by either my sister or myself, and I had awoken to see her hard at work, and presumably eventually she would leave a monetary gift in exchange for our tooth sacrifice.

The fairy I saw in my childhood bedroom was a lovely, good, kind fairy. The legendary fae were not always creatures of good tidings, though. They had a reputation for wreaking mischief and havoc, and for sabotaging their human neighbors if certain demands weren’t met. We explored the history and folkore from Ireland in Episode 187:

Luck O’ The Irish: St. Patrick’s Day Traditions, Mythss, and Legends

Thank goodness it was the Tooth Fairy that I saw, and not one of the dark fae known for doing much more unsavory work! Had that been the case, I may not be around today to tell the tale, for many a story tells of creatures stealing young children from their beds in the night (as illustrated when David Bowie’s dreamy but evil goblin character Jareth snatched baby Toby RIGHT OUT OF HIS CRIB in the movie Labyrinth!). We covered this terrifying concept in depth in Episode 204, where author Joshua Cutchin shared some of the supernatural child-snatching tragedies from his book, “Thieves in the Night: A Brief History of Supernatural Child Abductions“:

Thieves In The Night: Faeries, Aliens, and Child Abductions with Joshua Cutchin

I am relieved that what I saw was not one of “Satan‘s Little Helpers” (that’s not a typo) either. Elves are another example of childhood golden books instilling a belief that tiny mythical creatures are cute, fun, and helpful. But we learned that this is not always the case in Episode 175. Indeed, the original jovial assistants to Santa weren’t there to help, they were there to hurt:

Elves: More Than Just Santa's Little Helpers

Ultimately, my personal fairy experience was positive and fun, a manifestation of some of the magic I so enjoyed reading about from the page into the very real space of my own room. But if you awake in the night and see one of these folk has visited, bear in mind that it may not be a visit of good tidings…